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Hidden Gems

Hidden Gems of Mexico City

Locations in this article:  Mexico City, Mexico

Ready for some high altitude, off the brochure fun? Welcome to Mexico City, the largest (and the highest altitude) metropolitan area in North America. It has great history, great food, and great parks. And we’re not talking your normal guidebook here. It’s all part of my hidden gems series on The Travel Detective on PBS. It’s the stuff NOT in the brochures and that only the locals know… Here’s just part of the segment we shot there.


Beneath the Metropolitan Cathedral 
Many remnants of the ancient city still remain—like the Templo Mayor next to the Metropolitan Cathedral. It’s on almost every tourist’s “must-see” list, but if you want to see something that most visitors don’t even know exists, you’ll have to go beneath the cathedral….

Here’s where you’ll find part of a fifteenth- century pyramid that was discovered during a renovation of the church in 1976. It honors Tonatiuh, Aztec Sun God, and it contains an intact chimali —a shield that contains a symbol of the universe.

Anyone can view the ruins which are a real treat for archaeology buffs– but you’ll need to get permission from the office of culture and tourism for the Metropolitan Cathedral before you plan to arrive. You can contact Yolanda Trejo Arrona – Coordinadora de Cultura y Turismo Catedral Metropolitana de México (Coordinator of Culture and Tourism of the Metropolitan Cathedral of Mexico) at


It’s twice the size of Central Park. We’re talking 17,000 acres. One of the largest parks in the Western Hemisphere and so many cool places to see—if you know where to look. Most people who come to the park will visit the castle, which is the only royal castle in the Americas…or maybe the zoo, which is the most popular attraction in the park. There’s even an amusement park for the kids (and for the young at heart). But if you want to avoid the crowds, there are some lesser-known places you don’t want to miss. Now if you’re looking for great art in Mexico City, you don’t have to go far with 167 museums. But then right in the middle of Chapultepec Park, there is something that might really surprise you. The Cárcamo de Dolores was constructed in 1951 as part of a water distribution system for Mexico City. Designed by architect Ricardo Rivas, water was stored inside here and four large towers outside the building. This was a working part of the municipal system until the 1990s.


Just past a large monument honoring Mexican World War II heroes, you’ll find a pathway that’s easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. If you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax in the middle of this urban park—this is the place. Grab a book from the library cart, and spend some time reading or napping while you listen to the classical, jazz or new age music that’s piped from the speakers tucked away in the trees.